Health Advocacy Groups Call on Canada Not To Limit Scope of Diseases Covered by Patent Law Changes
Health advocacy groups on Monday said that Canada, which is currently drafting changes to its patent laws to allow the export of generic antiretrovirals to developing countries, should not limit the diseases covered by the patent changes, Agence France-Presse reports (Agence France-Presse, 10/20). Canadian officials and representatives from the country's drug industry have given their support to a plan allowed under a recently reached World Trade Organization agreement to alter the country's pharmaceutical drug patent laws to allow the production and exportation of generic drugs. Canada would be the first Group of Seven industrialized country to change its patent laws in order to help developing countries that need access to the medications (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/8). The details of the patent changes are still being debated, Agence France-Presse reports. But Dr. James Orbinski of Medecins Sans Frontieres said that there is a risk that the proposed changes will limit the scope of diseases for which medicines can be manufactured and exported to a "small number of diseases under very particular emergency conditions." He also said that the patent changes should "enable -- rather than hobble -- real change on global health issues," adding, "If Canada is going to lead on this issue then it must get it right." Richard Elliot of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network said that Canada is in a position to "take full advantage" of the WTO agreement and could "do so in a way that is open-ended and does not just apply to specific diseases or emergency situations" without being "in any way ... ahead of any international consensus" (Agence France-Presse, 10/20).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.